Eye contact findings may change new-age technology

(Kingston, ON) — Noting that the eyes have long been described as mirrors of the soul, a Queen’s computer scientist is studying the effect of eye gaze on conversation and the implications for new-age technologies, ranging from video conferencing to speech recognition systems.

Dr. Roel Vertegaal, who is presenting a paper on eye gaze at an international conference in New Orleans this week, has found evidence to suggest a strong link between the amount of eye contact people receive and their degree of participation in group communications. Eye contact is known to increase the number of turns a person will take when part of a group conversation. The goal of this study was to determine what type of “gaze” (looking at a person’s eyes and face) is required to have this effect.

Two conditions were studied: synchronized (where eye contact is made while the subject is speaking) and random contact, received at any time in the conversation. The Queen’s study showed that the total amount of gaze received during a group conversation is more important than when the eye contact occurs. more…

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